Professor Heckman issued the following statement in response to the State of the Union address on January 28, 2014.
“It’s heartening to see that for two years early childhood education has been a prominent part of the President’s policy proposals. There is a strong body of evidence that shows early childhood education has great value for disadvantaged children, their families and society.
“Children from disadvantaged families arrive at kindergarten with a significant achievement gap in the knowledge, vocabulary and social skills necessary to compete and succeed in school. This gap is very difficult to close through remediation, special education and other programs. Quality early childhood education is a vehicle for reducing inequality, not by re-distributing wealth, but by pre-distributing the wealth of skills and abilities that helps people seize the opportunities of education, healthcare and employment.
“President Obama was right to point out that the accident of birth should not limit the opportunity for any child to move up in the world. He’s right that research does show that one of the best investments we can make in a child’s life is high-quality early childhood education. It is an effective way to reduce economic inequality by promoting the skills that increase achievement and productivity.”